By: Peggy Sue Yarber
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC
Publication Date: December 2009
Reviewed by: Will Gabbett
Review Date: February 5, 2010
In Peggy Sue Yarber’s latest novel, The Judas Ride, the lives of several out-of-control teens come to an explosive end that will captivate readers and keep pages turning. Writing about problems that are very real and face many teens today, Yarber doesn’t sugar coat what can happen when a person refuses to take responsibility for their own actions.
Sonia is a self-absorbed teen who is pregnant and is too immature to accept responsibility for her predicament. She hates what the baby growing inside her is doing to her once beautiful, slim body. She also torments the two possible fathers, Xavier and Vader. Xavier is determined to help Sonia and build a respectable life for her and their unborn child. Vader is a far more loathsome individual who abuses Sonia, both physically and verbally. Vader’s younger brother Frankie offers a glimmer of hope, but like the others, he is tormented by secrets from his past. With the exception of Xavier, the only other truly redeeming character in The Judas Ride is Pastor Manny, a Chinese immigrant who believes that he can save the lost teens through a relationship with God.
Vader has a lot of pent up anger and when not taking it out on Sonia by hitting her, he takes it out on others, including Xavier. Assisting Vader is Bugger, a member of the trouble-making gang who is happy to beat up Xavier and leave the young man for dead at Vader’s request.
Like real life, there are no fairytale endings for the characters in The Judas Ride. Without giving the ending away, not all teens in this story are redeemed, nor do they find their way out of a life of despair. This is a hard look at living on the fringes, a place where parents, if they’re even present, are not supportive and are too busy trying to claw out of their own holes of hopelessness.
Billed as a Christian novel, there are numerous references to God and discussions between Pastor Manny and the teens he is trying to save. The youth frequently disparage God, such as when Vader tells Manny, “There is no God, and there’s nothing fair in the world. There’s nothing but pain and heartache…” But Manny doesn’t give up on his flock and several interesting talks about what God can do to help the forlorn teens ensue.
It must be noted that there are numerous typos and grammatical errors in The Judas Ride that hamper the flow of the story - ‘Vader asked questions, and all she has to do was say yes and everything would be fine.’ (pg. 33) Having an editor clean up the text would greatly enhance the reading of this book.
Quill says: A harsh look at teens who struggle with their inner demons.